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Pete Atkin >> Gigs >> Sussex gig on 24 July
(Message started by: snodin on Today at 22:25)

Title: Sussex gig on 24 July
Post by snodin on Today at 22:25
Hi,

I'm new to the Board so hello to all the regular 'voices'.  

Anyone planning on coming to the gig in Sussex on 24 July?  The Ravenswood is a great venue - it's a 15th Century Sussex Manor House, and we'll be in the Baronial Room, complete with galleried landings, shields and Stag's heads!  We have the excellent (and very English) singer, Liz Simcock, on the same bill -  should make for a really good night. Tickets have just gone on sale (£10 - tel 01342 716975/714810 or email me at martin@acousticsussex.org.uk)

If you want any information on transport, local eateries or accommodation, just ask (or check out the Acoustic Sussex website).

Regards,

Martin Snodin


Title: Re: Sussex gig on 24 July
Post by Grahame59 on 14.07.06 at 16:24
Hi Pete

I am coming to your gig on the 24th and wondered if you have decided on a set list yet and, if so, if it will be announced on here prior to the gig.

Grahame

Title: Re: Sussex gig on 24 July
Post by Pete Atkin on 19.07.06 at 09:49
When it's just me, I hardly ever decide on a setlist until just before I go on.  There have been a few exceptions, but usually I have a list of songs which I think I fancy doing and which I've therefore done a bit of work on, and I then usually decide on which two or three I'll start with; after that I go with the feel of things, and in any case sometimes blow myself off course by thinking of something out of the blue (or by responding, sometimes ill-advisedly, to a request).  In other words, posting in advance is not really an option.   (Besides and incidentally, would it make a difference to whether you decided to come?!)

Still making my list

Pete

Title: Re: Sussex gig on 24 July
Post by Grahame59 on 19.07.06 at 16:38
Thanks for the reply Pete.

No, it would make no difference at all to whether I'm coming - I've been to a few of your gigs, have all your albums and have been a fan since the mid-70s!

I only asked as I am bringing two people with me who are less familiar with your work and who asked me if I knew what you were singing, maybe so they could familarise themselves with those songs beforehand.

No worries, we're looking forward to a great evening.

Grahame

Title: Re: Sussex gig on 24 July
Post by S J Birkill on 19.07.06 at 17:31
Hello Grahame

Perhaps you have a song in mind you think would appeal to your... people? You might consider venturing a request -- Pete will sometimes go out of his way to please, even if you ask for something obscure. Just tell yourself you're saving him the live stress of deciding on the night whether to attempt it -- he's got 5 days to prepare...

Steve

Title: Re: Sussex gig on 24 July
Post by Grahame59 on 19.07.06 at 17:40
Thanks for the tip, Steve. Here goes...

Pete, if you *are* taking requests, I would LOVE you to play Driving Through Mythical America. A terrific song and one you haven't sung at the gigs I've attended, but also because one of the people who will be at the gig on Monday is an American, from Texas to be precise, a lovely lady by the name of Jo-Ella.

My son Stephen will be there too. A guitar player himself,  he loves Thief in the Night.

Thanks and here's hoping!

Grahame

Title: Re: Sussex gig on 24 July
Post by David Morgan on 20.07.06 at 10:35
While we're in requests corner for next Monday, can I just say that I'd love to hear one or two favourites from the (sadly neglected at recent gigs that I've attended) Lakeside Sessions repertoire. My ideal menu would include the obvious (Canoe, Ice Cream Man, Dream of Fair Women) and the perhaps less obvious (Femme Fatale, With Her It Goes Deeper, You Alone Will Be My Last Adventure and, topping them all(!!), The Ties That Bind You).

Would love to hear any of these, if they fit. Or if not....any chance of Faded Mansion on the Hill or Senior Citizens (yet again!)?

Title: Re: Sussex gig on 24 July
Post by Ian Chippett on 20.07.06 at 13:36
I'd like to put in a request for "My Egoist" which Pete sang when he came to Paris back in I999 (?) thus making my day, if not year.Shan't be there on Monday alas for geographical reasons but if everybody learns the words and all join in at the top of their (Midnight) voices maybe I'll pick something up over here in not-so-gay Paree.

Ian C

Down and out in Paris

Title: Sussex gig on 24 July: Report
Post by Richard Bleksley on 25.07.06 at 02:25
I don't know if you could say there was such a thing as a typical venue for an Atkin gig, seeing as how they're so few and far between, but if there were, the Ravenswood would not be it. A mansion, no less, set in lush wooded grounds - and the room itself comes complete with beamed ceiling, huge arched fireplace, minstrel's gallery and its own bar (yes, selling real ale). The perfect venue for a warm summer's evening, and even with the big fans swishing round overhead and the doors leading to the terrace and lawn outside thrown wide open it was very, very warm.

It's not easy to assess an artist on a first hearing, but by the second or third number I knew I was going to like Liz Simcock, who opened the proceedings - an attractive, individualistic and expressive voice, some very good songs (though not quite all of them hit it off with me straightaway), some quite nifty guitar work and a nice sense of humour (though mainly displayed between rather than in the songs). I particularly liked Scissors Cuts Paper, an angry song commenting on the seemingly never-ending conflicts in such places as Ulster and the Middle East, with a strong backing and appropriately vehement vocal delivery. A considerable talent, I'd say, yet another example of the amount of it that's bubbling away underground, beneath the notice of the mass media, while talentless nerds make fortunes.

Pete was in fine voice and gave one of the most assured performances I've witnessed from him, with very few glitches, stopping only now and again to mop his face with a large red handkerchief (or maybe it was a small towel). In particular, his guitar work was confident and seamless. Sartorial note: no question of odd socks this time, since he wasn't wearing any.

Since Janice graced us with her presence (and we had a nice chat in the interval) I won't keep a dog and bark myself by attempting to remember the setlist. I'll just try for some highlights.

The opener was the song that was first heard at Eastbourne earlier this year, and whose title has now been confirmed as Time to Burn. I liked it then and I liked again this time. In fact all three of the performed but so far unrecorded new songs appeared on the "menu."

An interesting departure was the coupling of the new song Me to Thank (first heard at Walthamstow last year) onto the front of Payday Evenings as a sort of intro.

The biggest rarity of the evening was a song Pete said he'd unearthed while sorting out some old papers, never recorded and so old that both he and Clive had forgotten about it. And that arch-completist, Andy Love, wasn't there… Called The King Is Dead, it had a rollicking piano accompaniment that my missus, keyboard aficionado that she is, rather enjoyed.

I've said there were very few glitches. The possibility arose (according to Pete) when he announced the only song of the evening he hadn't prepared at all, as it was in response to an on-the-night request. Since the song in question was Beware of the Beautiful Stranger, there were no problems, though.

Pete finished by saying how much he enjoyed doing these occasional performances, thanking the audience for making this pleasure possible for him - a nice touch, I thought.

My ever-loving wife (Off-topic trivia question: can anyone tell me which American author I pinched that phrase from?) had her moment of glory just before we left. I had just expressed my surprise to Pete when he'd said he hadn't noticed I was there, seeing as how we were right in the middle of the front row. He explained that he doesn't look at the audience when he's singing so as not to be put off, but concentrates on the wall at the back of the room. Quick as a flash, Mrs. Bleksley said: "So near you couldn't see it, eh?"

Title: Re: Sussex gig on 24 July
Post by David Morgan on 25.07.06 at 10:36
Richard's summed it up pretty well. Other highlights for me were Winter Spring's three gems - Empty Table, Dancing Master and Prayers Against the Hitman - and a fine revival (for Grahame) of Driving Through Mythical America: an interesting challenge for solo acoustic guitar, as Pete observed, but he rose to it. Lyrics bees will have noted a potentially song-stopping glitch as Pete leapt from one 35-year-old stanza to another, but the Master of the Revels recovered smoothly, of course.

A lovely Thief in the Night & Ice Cream Man early in the set also deserve mention, and it was fascinating to hear about the genesis of Beware of the Beautiful Stranger, all those years ago on the road between Cambridge and the old A1.

Highlights?? I'm trying to recall lowlights. After all, as the MC reminded us, we were hearing just a few excerpts from the catalogue of probably the UK's finest songwriting team, so why should there be lowlights? It was a joy from beginning to end, as ever.

Oh - that's Damon Runyon's description of your wife, I think, Richard? Another writer with a style that's hard to copy!

Title: Re: Sussex gig on 24 July
Post by Richard Bleksley on 25.07.06 at 10:57
Right first time, David! For those unfamiliar, Runyon was the author of the humorous tales of Broadway low-life upon which the musical Guy and Dolls was based.

Oh, and by using the word "highlights" I didn't mean to imply that there were any lowlights!

Title: Re: Sussex gig on 24 July
Post by Kevin Cryan on 25.07.06 at 11:46
As far as I know, the phrase ever-loving wife rarely appears anywhere except on tombstones, birthday and anniversary cards,  and in the social and personal columns of newspapers. Maybe that is why it seems to have a familiar literary ring about it.

There was an episode of The Saint (the sixties series which starred Roger Moore) called The Ever Loving Spouse, but I do not think for one moment that this was what you have in mind when you asked the question.

The adjectival phrase ever loving appears quite often in Christian liturgy. This random example is taken from an American prayer book:


Quote:
Prayer of a Parent for a Departing Soldier

Father all-powerful and ever-loving God (my italics), from before we were born, your love has nurtured and sustained us. Hear my prayer for N., my son/daughter. Keep him/her safe in time of battle and faithful to you, day in and day out. Bring him/her safely home to those who love him/her. We ask this through Christ our Lord.
.

You'd imagine that phrase ever-loving would appear in song lyrics more often than it actually does. It appears in Nick Cave's Bless His Ever Loving Heart but in that song it's religious love that been spoken of:


Quote:
Bless his ever loving heart
Only he knows who you are
He may seem so very far
Bless his ever loving heart


It's there in Lillyn Brown and Her Jazz-Bo Syncopaters' Ever Lovin’ Blues, which, I think it's fair to say, speaks of secular rather than spiritual love:


Quote:
I'd give up all my money
If someone would call me honey,
To a good man my my heart I'd love to lose,
So don't be hesitating
And keep me here a-waiting,
Because I've got those ever-lovin' blues!


But, from your point of view, the phrase that comes closest to phrase we started out with pops up in the Sid Tepper and Roy Bennett number from the Elvis Presley film Blue Hawaii , Beach Boy Blues


Quote:
I want a taste of honey
From my wahini's lips
I want to be her ever loving man (my italics)
But I'm a kissing cousin to a ripe pineapple
I'm in the can


And there you have as much as I know about the phrase ever-loving. Wasn't it worth asking the question?


Kevin Cryan

Title: Re: Sussex gig on 24 July: Report
Post by Gerry Smith on 25.07.06 at 15:01

on 07/25/06 at 02:25:23, Richard Bleksley wrote :
The biggest rarity of the evening was a song Pete said he'd unearthed while sorting out some old papers, never recorded and so old that both he and Clive had forgotten about it. And that arch-completist, Andy Love, wasn't there… Called The King Is Dead, it had a rollicking piano accompaniment that my missus, keyboard aficionado that she is, rather enjoyed.


I believe this is on the LWT TPMO recording that Steve B. has archived.  As you say, Richard, a rousing number that rollicks along.

Wish I could have been there.

Gerry



Title: Re: Sussex gig on 24 July
Post by naomi on 25.07.06 at 15:12
Sounds like a great night.

I, too, wish I could have been there !

Naomi

Title: Re: Sussex gig on 24 July: Report
Post by S J Birkill on 25.07.06 at 17:03

on 07/25/06 at 02:25:23, Richard Bleksley wrote :
The biggest rarity of the evening was a song Pete said he'd unearthed while sorting out some old papers, never recorded and so old that both he and Clive had forgotten about it. And that arch-completist, Andy Love, wasn't there... Called The King Is Dead, it had a rollicking piano accompaniment that my missus, keyboard aficionado that she is, rather enjoyed.


on 07/25/06 at 15:01:09, Gerry Smith wrote :
I believe this is on the LWT TPMO recording that Steve B. has archived.  As you say, Richard, a rousing number that rollicks along.

In fact this is one of a handful of old songs Pete seemed to pull from deep memory while sitting at our piano in Monyash in June 1997, a couple of months before the first 'FoD'. I see he included it in Programme 5 (http://www.peteatkin.com/tpmo.htm) of LWT's The Party's Moving On in 1970 but I can't recall having a recording of that particular show (correct me if you sent me one!). The words are on the Website, here (http://www.peteatkin.com/i47.htm).

Steve

Title: Re: Sussex gig on 24 July
Post by Seán Kelly on 25.07.06 at 21:57
Richard and David - for these descriptions of the evening much thanks - most welcome for those of us who remain 'looking forward to Sheffield'.
Seán
(ps that's not a quote from any writer - no worries of that with me  :) )

Title: Re: Sussex gig on 24 July
Post by Jan on 26.07.06 at 00:43
OK Here's the setlist for Pete's part of the Ravenswood gig.

Time to burn (g)
Thief in the night (g)
Icecream man (k)
Dancing master (k)
Driving through mythical America (g)
An empty table (k)
That was the way to be alive (The king is dead) (k)
Intro of I've got me to thank (g)
leading into
Payday evening (g)
Between us there is nothing (k)
Here we stay (g)
Beware of the beautiful stranger (g)
Prayers against the hitman (g)
Girl on the train (g)


As others have said it was a lovely evening in a beautiful location.
Liz Simcock was entertaining and charming. She had some good songs. I was interested when she commented on the quietness of the audience during the songs. (MVs as usual being well behaved in such matters!)

It was good to hear the three new Atkin/James songs, it was the first time I'd heard Time to burn.
I was watching the faces of a couple of MVs in the front row and the look of delight on one bloke's face when Pete started Thief in the night was a picture!

I'd never heard Driving through mythical America sung live before, I missed PoD  :(
This was an absolutely amazing performance of a big song.

Andy Love has certainly heard Pete sing That was the way to be alive (The King is Dead). Pete sang it on a very cold, wet night at Eastbourne back in 2001. It was the night Andy got his car locked in the multistorey carpark together with his bell for freeform playing.
I would be interested to know if the song was played at PoD. It appeared on the setlist but there was some confusion about whether it was A king at nightfall or not. Please could someone confirm either way and I will amend my gig spreadsheet.
For the discussion see:
http://www.peteatkin.com/cgi-bin/mv/YaBB.cgi?board=ods;action=display;num=1100111668
In fact I can't remember who I got the setlist from in the end, if I have it its in the loft and the computer I used is long gone so any assistance would be appreciated.

Back to the latest gig.
I would have liked a bit more of  I've got me to thank but it did lead very nicely into Payday evening. It was worth all the train and taxi fares and the hotel bill to hear this one :)

And it was lovely to hear Beware of the beautiful stranger again.

MV Martin MC'd the proceedings - thanks Martin for the assistance with transport and accommodation information and for the lovely evening organised by Acoustic Sussex.
It was good to meet MVs Frank, Chris and Richard and family.

In view of Pete's comments on the forum I'd expected to hear a majority of keyboard songs but the final score was:
Atkin 9  Roland 5
Perhaps it was something to do with the heat.
Jan

Title: Re: Sussex gig on 24 July: Report
Post by Gerry Smith on 26.07.06 at 00:49

on 07/25/06 at 17:03:35, S J Birkill wrote :
In fact this is one of a handful of old songs Pete seemed to pull from deep memory while sitting at our piano in Monyash in June 1997, a couple of months before the first 'FoD'. I see he included it in Programme 5 (http://www.peteatkin.com/tpmo.htm) of LWT's The Party's Moving On in 1970 but I can't recall having a recording of that particular show (correct me if you sent me one!). The words are on the Website, here (http://www.peteatkin.com/i47.htm).


Hmmm, curious.  I'm sure that show 5 is one of the old recordings made by my brother Chas, that I sent many years ago and whihc you put onto CD.  The programme cerainly looks familiar.  Thing is, otherwise, I don't know how I'd know the song.  All my CD's are in my ex's loft at the moment so I'll have to find a moment to dig them out and see what I find.

While I'm here, I'd entreat anyone not familiar with History and Geography on the Lakeside Sessions (or even better on the FoD 97 recording) to have a listen.  This is a truly inspired song with lyrics that touch me deeply at the present time. There is something wonderful about the line "I comb the rubble of a shattered world to find the bright face of an angel".

Gerry

Title: Re: Sussex gig on 24 July
Post by Richard Bleksley on 26.07.06 at 01:55
Janice,

As one who has, ahem, a certain interest in what happened at PoD I would love to be able to give a definite answer to your question. I am absolutely certain that A King at Nightfall was played because I remember noticing the high proportion of the original five album title tracks that appeared (all except The Road of Silk - Live Libel, of course, not being a song title).

So I was going to say that it was AKAN that was played, until I checked back to Paul Gunningham's review and found that The King Is Dead is in the setlist too. Trouble is, I don't actually remember it. I would have thought I'd have noticed a song I'd never heard before - except that, by the second set, I was suffering severe fatigue from the long day of unaccustomed responsibility and was running on nervous energy. I nearly fell asleep during Senior Citizens!

The song came to me at the Ravenswood as fresh and previously unheard, but considering my afore-mentioned condition at PoD I could be wrong. Anyone else remember?

Well, I'm not the only one who doesn't remember what gets played. Pete said at the Ravenswood that he hadn't played Driving Through Mythical America for many years, when (as you remarked) he played it at PoD, less then two years ago!

Richard
(with his memory slipping away)

Title: Re: Sussex gig on 24 July
Post by snodin on 26.07.06 at 10:00
Hi folks
As the 'promoter' the other night, I just wanted to mention what a pleasure it was to see everyone - several people travelled a long way, and we appreciate the effort. It was good to meet Pete too - a first for me, although I felt I'd got to 'know' him through emails and telephone calls in the preceding months (and, of course, he's an easy chap to get along with). He arrived in good time so we were able to chat while setting up the PA etc, which always makes the evening more pleasurable for promoters.

I fist saw Pete when I was 17, at Nottingham University - I lived locally then and it was our regular music venue (saw Sandy Denny, Stackridge, Vinegar Joe, Captain Beefheart, etc... ahh, those were the days).  Since then, I've seen Pete solo just twice (Islington and Eastbourne) and with Clive once in Brighton. He's always given great performances and this show was no exception, in my view. He gave 100%.

What was especially heartening for me was that apart from the MVs, we had a good number of local people, some of whom come to our events regardless of genre (we deliberately mix things up a bit) and some who just turned up because they saw the gig in the local press and were intrigued. CD sales (albeit at overly-generous prices!) would suggest he's found some new fans - who'd have thought it?

So we're pleased to have become part of Pete's storybook and hope we've done our bit in keeping these great songs alive. I made the observation during the show that I think the songs are "important" and I actually do believe this to be the case. They are a benchmark for others to compare their work (God help them). Apart from the aforementioned Liz Simcock, in the audience was a lady (who I introduced) called Janice Haves, founder of Angelic Music (a recently established web-based forum and record label for female singer songwriters - www.angelicmusic.co.uk). Speaking to them after the gig, I can tell you that both found the material a revelation.

Anyhow, I do hope the September gig is the 'occasion' it deserves to be, and thanks again to everyone who came to our gig, and for Pete for giving us a great performance.

Martin, Acoustic Sussex (www.acousticsussex.org.uk)

Title: Re: Sussex gig on 24 July
Post by Secret Drinker on 27.07.06 at 16:39

on 07/26/06 at 01:55:33, Richard Bleksley wrote :
<snip>
So I was going to say that it was AKAN that was played, until I checked back to Paul Gunningham's review and found that The King Is Dead is in the setlist too. Trouble is, I don't actually remember it. I would have thought I'd have noticed a song I'd never heard before - except that, by the second set, I was suffering severe fatigue from the long day of unaccustomed responsibility and was running on nervous energy. I nearly fell asleep during Senior Citizens!

<snip>


My ears were burning just then - along with the rest of me in this heatwave.

Any road up, according to the PoD setlist published with the review (http://www.peteatkin.com/podrevpg.htm), Pete sang both AKAN and The King Is Dead. What I wrote about the latter in the PoD review was: "Another song on that favourite Clive James theme of lost love and regret is the unissued The King Is Dead - this was much more of an MV collectors' item, receiving its first airing in recent history."

I'm sorry to admit that now, I can't remember the song in detail, but I believe Pete did sing it - I don't think I would have made the above up if it wasn't true (would I?). Well, I did make it up of course, as I didn't copy it from anybody else, but you know what I mean ;D

So I assume Pete did indeed sing it at PoD. I remember there was some confusion about the PoD setlist when I wrote the review, because it seemed that unusually, no-one had written it down at the time (Janice, where were you?). ISTR Pete kindly sent me the setlist afterwards but warned me it might not be in exactly the right order. I think I rearranged it here and there where I could positively remember any differences, but I don't recall deleting anything. I might be able to check when I get home, if I still have the emails.

Pete - can you please confirm whether you sang The King Is Dead at PoD?

Tell me you did! (Ooerr, I feel a bit like that theatre critic who skipped the show, made up the review and submitted it to the editor, only to discover the next day that the theatre had burnt down and the show had never taken place)   :-[

Cheers

Paul

Title: Re: Sussex gig on 24 July
Post by Leslie Moss on 27.07.06 at 22:26

on 07/26/06 at 10:00:36, snodin wrote :
Hi folks
I fist saw Pete when I was 17, at Nottingham University - I lived locally then and it was our regular music venue (saw Sandy Denny, Stackridge, Vinegar Joe, Captain Beefheart, etc... ahh, those were the days).
Martin, Acoustic Sussex (www.acousticsussex.org.uk)


Strange but true - I visited Nottingham Uni yesterday and found it to have a great vibe even out of term. (Well all right, not that strange, but certainly true!). Them's were great days - do students get to see the same range and quality of bands/singers nowadays? I guess not - student unions don't do that kind of thing any more. I too saw Sandy Denny live - one of my most treasured student memories - but never got to see Elkie Brooks with or without band, a great shame.

Martin. so sorry to have missed this gig, but my father had been in hospital and I'd been going to see him each night. He came out on Tuesday - why couldn't it have been Monday?!

Leslie

Title: Re: Sussex gig on 24 July
Post by Richard Bleksley on 27.07.06 at 22:46
Paul says he doesn't remember The King Is Dead in detail. Well, as I said, I don't either from PoD; but I certainly do from the Ravenswood, and in my opinion it's a bit of a cracker.

Interesting that there's been so much comment since Winter Spring about Clive's new "stripped down" writing style. If you go right back beyond what you might call his "baroque period" (Pete calls it "Clive's show-off period") to the early stuff, a lot of that is relatively straightforward too.

If you follow Steve's link in his post above to the lyrics you'll find that The King Is Dead is pretty simple (Pete called it "just a pop song, really"), but that doesn't stop it being good. Another comment Pete made was that, when he showed it to Clive (who'd forgotten it), Clive said something like: "I've never written better than that."

I agree. If you can hit the spot, as I believe this song does, with simple language then you're a really good writer.

Title: Re: Sussex gig on 24 July
Post by Ian Ashleigh on 28.07.06 at 22:38
Hi All (and especially Pete)

We thoroughly enjoyed Monday's gig at Ravenswood, having made the epic journey from East Grinstead (all of a 15 minute drive!!).  We took my 14 year old stepson (who has minor learning difficulties) to his fisrt ever gig and he was enthralled.  His evening was made when Pete sang Beware of the Beautiful Stranger, which is his favourite PA/CJ song - we have all the SFM CDs and the 3 new ones.  

The venue was wonderful and Liz Simcock was also very good and worth seeing again, clever, witty and funny.

I look forard to Pete visiting Sussex again soon

Ian


Title: Re: Sussex gig on 24 July
Post by steve_ab on 30.07.06 at 18:13
Hi everyone

I'd just like to say thanks to Pete for the brilliant evening at the Ravenswood on the 24th. It was great hearing 'Driving through Mythical America' and several other favourites live. But 'Ice Cream Man' also reminded me that the 'Lakeside Sessions' CDs reward repeated listening and contain a number of gems that stand alongside Pete and Clive's older classics.

I drove up from Devon for the gig with my 12 year old boy who also thoroughly enjoyed the evening. Any chance of some more gigs in the West Country, Pete? The Yeovil gig was pretty well attended last year and it is almost on your doorstep!

PS: I'd also like to thank Martin Snodin for his helpfulness and friendliness ...

A great evening - thanks

Steve & Rob

Title: Re: Sussex gig on 24 July
Post by Pete Atkin on 31.07.06 at 12:09
And it's a big thank from me - to all who came, whether reading this or not, who each contributed significantly to creating such a good atmosphere, and especially to Martin and Paul and Peter for organisation that didn't leave any base uncovered, as far as I could tell.   Acoustic Sussex is an admirable, enviable enterprise.  Maybe it has equivalents elsewhere around the country, I don't know.  Ideally there should be a kind of national network of them, bridging the considerable gap between folk clubs and larger, more formal concert venues.  If you should happen to know of one, do please let us know; I for one would get in touch prontissimo.

Thanks too for all the kind comments above.   Just a couple of matters arise.   Richard, it pains me to draw attention to this, but I know that detail matters to the readers of these postings:  my handkerchief was bright yellow, not red.   And while I'm as grateful as could be for Martin's patently -- and practically -- sincere endorsement, I confess I winced a little at the word "important".  There are a few arguably important songs -- the Battle Hymn of the Republic, the Marseillaise, Brother Can You Spare A Dime?, Chirpy Chirpy Cheep Cheep, maybe -- but I don't think any of ours has approached any of those.  I suppose I fear the danger of the tiny trip-up between "important" and "self-important".  I've always been utterly sincere in saying that we've only ever tried to write pop songs, however odd they've sometimes turned out to be.

I'm sorry about the confusion over [The King Is Dead].  Sorry, Paul, I have no recollection of whether or not I played it at PoD.  But if I included it in the list I gave you (assuming there's no ambiguity between it and AKAN), then I'm sure I must have.  It was on last year's tour that I played it during a soundcheck, when Clive heard it for the first time since 1968 or whenever.  What he said on hearing it again was "I can't write any better than that."  I have a feeling that that's perhaps a slightly mystifying statement to a lot of MVs.  I won't myself expand here and now on what I think he meant, not least because, hey, I'd rather hear what other people have to say.

Eyes beginning to focus on that Lantern in the distance.

With many another thank to all

Pete

Title: Re: Sussex gig on 24 July
Post by Richard Bleksley on 11.08.06 at 17:47
Just returned from the delights (scenic, gastronomic and alcoholic) of the Dordogne to find Pete's posting. OK, Pete, so the handkerchief wasn't bright red, but my face certainly is!

And if Clive's comment on The King is Dead mystifies some MVs, I still stand by what I wrote in my last post.

Here's looking forward to Sheffield - though perhaps I should leave the report on the gig to someone with a better memory for colours....

Title: Archive items [Re: Sussex gig]
Post by S J Birkill on 15.08.06 at 10:05

on 07/26/06 at 00:49:21, Gerry Smith wrote :
Hmmm, curious.  I'm sure that show 5 is one of the old recordings made by my brother Chas, that I sent many years ago and whihc you put onto CD.

Found it!

Had a sort-out of a filing cabinet full of Atkinabilia yesterday, inside which I found a stack of unedited CD transfers of vintage TV, concert and club recordings sent in by members. Among them, sure enough, was Gerry's audio recording of that particular TPMO broadcast. So here is the song in question, The King Is Dead (http://www.peteatkin.com/i47.htm) (also known as 'King For A Day') as sung by Julie Covington in 1970: go to the members-only area (hit the Forum's archive (http://www.peteatkin.com/mv/index.htm) button -- you need to be logged in to see this) and find "king.mp3" about half-way down the index page.

Also long overdue for posting, the remaining lyrics and images from Andy Love's 2000 MV gathering, SoD2k (http://freespace.virgin.net/a.love), when Carole and I were fêted with champagne, gifts, songs and festive dishes. These are in the public area:

Roy Brown's They Were Robbed (http://www.peteatkin.com/x1p.htm)

Jeremy Pymer's Thrice-Beamed Man (http://www.peteatkin.com/h2p.htm) (to the tune of 'Ice-Cream Man').

What a day that was!

Steve

Title: Re: Archive items (was Sussex gig)
Post by S J Birkill on 16.08.06 at 08:34
Apologies to anyone who tried and failed to hear 'The King Is Dead' yesterday. The server in Seattle which I use for some overflowed binaries (peteatkin.com is full) went down in flames Monday evening. It's back up now on a new machine.

For the same reason, anyone emailing Carole in response to her Marriott message (this (http://www.peteatkin.com/cgi-bin/mv/YaBB.cgi?board=ods;action=display;num=1155652840;start=0#0) thread) may have had their mail bounced. Best to try again -- note only email was affected, not IM.

SJB

Title: Re: Sussex gig on 24 July
Post by David Morgan on 24.08.06 at 13:20
Looping back a few posts, I'd like to take issue with the modest Mr Atkin’s rejection of Martin Snodin's 'Important' descriptor for his songs (post of 31 July). Pete's modesty is genuine - I saw him wince when Martin used the I-word, and at the time I was also a little surprised to hear it. But the theme has kept rattling around my head over the past month, and I’ve arrived at thinking that 'important' may be quite right. So in the interest of a good controversy I’ll try to explain why: apologies for the length of what follows!

My view is of course deeply subjective, but then importance, like beauty, must at least begin in the eye (or ear) of the beholder. I'm one of those for whom songs are the most potent art form, because great magic happens when a good lyric and melody blend to produce a result that's worth more than the sum of the parts. This heady brew can engage mind and emotions and force them to spark off each other like almost nothing else that I've found on this planet. This is a large claim, of course, but I suspect that MVs will know what I'm talking about.

So clearly I think that songs are important - my life and many others would be immeasurably poorer without them. But of course some are more important than others, and at the objective level Pete's probably right that only those individual songs which somehow contribute to historical change can truly justify the description. It’s hard for songs to become important: after all, many people have cloth ears, and even those who appreciate songs have widely varying tastes and speak different languages. Another obstacle is that any one song is a small thing: this is a disadvantage for any art form.

But let's give this some context. Let's think about songs written in English during the last half-century, and about people who care about those songs. I think that in this frame we can talk meaningfully about what’s important, and that I can support an at least semi-objective argument, so - slings and arrows be damned! - here goes.

By now I think it’s widely accepted that the songs of Bob Dylan, as a body, are important. After all, several of them probably even qualify on the basis of the 'contribution to historical change' criterion. Dylan of course also showed the way to the range of themes that could validly be explored in popular song, and brought a perhaps unprecedented poetic quality of language to his songwriting. I’m quite sure that many of the results will long outlive the wizened old grump himself.

I would argue that you can count virtually on one hand the writers who have been capable of carrying on Dylan’s baton over (necessary test - one song is small) a sizeable body of quality work, where the lyrics consistently have something significant to say, say it in original and arresting ways, and are given full force by strong and memorable melodies. Leading candidates in my semi-objective book - no room for the justifications* here, I’m afraid - would be Joni Mitchell, Randy Newman, Leonard Cohen (yes, the Conman himself: I said there’d be controversy!), Bruce Springsteen and…of course, James & Atkin.

I imagine that many people would suggest adding Lennon & McCartney, but I can’t get excited about L&M’s lyrics in most cases. The Beatles were great performers, and their recordings are carried primarily by those performances and their fine pop tunes. Performance is also a major prop for numerous others, such as Neil Young, Van Morrison, Richard Thompson….genius performers all, whose work I love dearly, but I would argue that they’ve not produced large written bodies of words and music in the class of Mitchell’s, Newman’s etc.

The writers in my premier league are generally fine performers themselves, and this has probably acted to limit the number of alternative performances and recordings of their songs to date. Bob Dylan is of course the exception – whether because he’s the best writer or the worst singer I’ve never been sure! But the key point about all these writers is that many of their songs can stand alone, independent of the original arrangements and performances, on sheer quality of lyrics and melodies. Strip any number of songs down, look at them and judge for yourself which ones from the last 50 years are worth preserving for future generations of performers to reinterpret. I think you’ll see that these premier league writers score over and over again.

The fact that all my chosen songwriters (except young Springsteen) started out in the 1960s may have a lot to do with my age – but I wonder how much. I’ve kept in touch with what’s happened since: on the basis of pure songwriting track record, which newer arrivals would be candidates for the list? Elvis Costello? Well, if Clive James invented show-off lyric writing, Costello certainly took it to new levels! Morrissey and Marr? Very talented, but not quite premier league, in my view. Damon Albarn? Ray Davies did it better in the 60s, I would say. But of course I’ll be delighted to hear that I’ve completely missed someone wonderful.

So, given all of this, what about that word ‘important’? We’re still only in 2006, and I think that more time is needed to reveal the real importance of the premier league writers’ songs. Maybe they’ll all soon be forgotten, though I genuinely doubt it. These people have discovered a new range of potential for literate songwriting in or around the despised pop idiom, and I believe they’ll get their due in future reviews of artistic achievement from the late 20th century onwards. Enlightened critical opinion these days acknowledges that ‘pop’ does not have to mean disposable ephemera, so Pete and Clive’s ambition ‘only’ to write pop songs (I guess Bob Dylan would make the same claim) no longer implies an automatic ticket to the garbage bin of history. Rather, the writers of the best pop songs since the 1950s should be seen as having provided the most vital channels of expression for the hopes, fears, loves, hates and yearnings of a generation or two, and the best and most timeless of their songs can potentially do the same for younger generations.

This, in my book, makes these writers’ songs important, or at least in with a chance of getting there. That Atkin and James have so far been relatively overlooked commercially is irrelevant to the fact, which I believe should be clear to informed critics, that their writing stands in this top-quality group and has its own set of unique nuances that are every bit as exciting, satisfying and, yes, important(!) as those of the other premier leaguers’ work. Patriotic Brits & Australians should also note that without A&J we’ll have handed the game entirely to the North Americans (and no, I don’t think that E John/B Taupin are a good substitute, no matter how many records they’ve sold!).

So there, Pete – I hope you’re blushing once again. But even if the semi-objective argument above turns out to be garbage, the subjective one holds – many of your songs have been very important to me for over 30 years now. And thanks for the newer ones as well!
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
*Note about the absent ‘justifications’:

I’m sure that most readers will disagree with at least some of my ‘semi-objective’ assessments: this post is already too long, so the justification arguments are missing. It’s certainly hard to be even half-objective about something as emotive and personal as the impact of songs, but I can argue (at length!) the case for rating, for example, Randy Newman above Neil Young as a songwriter, even though I listen to Young’s recordings more often. Don’t encourage me, would be my advice! Rather, we can perhaps agree that, whoever the top 5 or 6 writers are, A&J are up there with them.

If this is the case, and the Atkin/James songs are potentially important but in danger of being widely ignored and forgotten despite Steve B’s best efforts, is there something more that MVs as a group can or should do about this? Or maybe Pete and Clive are happy with obscurity for their joint endeavours: if so, I’ll shut up at this point!

Title: Re: Important songs? (Was Sussex gig on 24 July)
Post by David Morgan on 24.08.06 at 13:51
Just giving a pointer to subject of previous post via the header....

Title: Re: Sussex gig on 24 July
Post by Ian Chippett on 24.08.06 at 14:09
Kingsley Amis once said (quite rightly IMO) "Importance isn't important: good writing is." When I see the sord "important" in a record review or article, I usually find it can be replaced by "boring" or "unlistenable." THus, I don't think we can really consider Pete and Clive's stuff to be "important" as it hasn't influenced any other writers as far as I know whereas Dylan's stuff is "important" from this point of view (but did it infuence anybody any good?) Personally, I bought all Dylan's songbooks in the early days (as I did with Elton John's songbooks) as I couldn't believe how he could get away with it. Surely, I thought, I must be missing something. Alas, I wasn't.

Just my HO of course.

Ian C

A complete unknown in Pantin France



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